Carrara marble flooring and counters epitomize luxury and timeless upscale decor. The stone, quarried in the Italian Pyrenees for decades, comes in a myriad of coloured veins with characteristics that vary from noticeably flawed — most fascinating — to smooth and lightly veined. But marble stains, scratches, nicks and loses its luster when not thoroughly preserved. Other types of stone for the kitchen, bathroom or flooring may save you money and labor.
Granite, an igneous rock with hard crystalline flecks inside, is a durable stone. It’s perfect for heavy-use surfaces such as kitchen counters. You can’t scratch it with a knife, though it’s so tough it’ll dull knife blades. An extremely close-grained stone, it does not absorb stains readily. You can decide on a hot grass form the stove on it because it wo not react to heat. Granite does not crack, but it may be chipped — with a great deal of effort. It takes much less attempt to fix a chip with a mixture of epoxy glue and granite dust. Granite comes in many different colors — reds, grays, blues, browns, creams and black. It’s an investment in your kitchen that will outlast the home.
Soapstone is impervious to heat the same as granite. It’s a much softer stone, though, and requires different handling. Soapstone, also referred to as steatite to distinguish it from a very soft soapstone used for talc goods, is extremely dense and non-porous, more than granite or marble. It does not stain because it is impenetrable and consumes no liquid. But recently installed soapstone counters could be oiled several times to bring the stone to its naturally dark eventual shade quickly. Each oiling deepens the color from gray to charcoal. After a couple of applications of oil, the deeper shade will hold and may be touched up if it begins to lighten. In about six months, then the stone will eternally reach its charcoal hue. Since soapstone is delicate, scratches can be disguised by rubbing them with oil. A deep scratch might be gently sanded and then oiled.
Slate flooring is just a non-skid, non-porous natural stone that comes in variegated hues of blues and grays that may contain hints of lilacs, browns and greens. It has a primarily bluish cast but doesn’t come in dark, a versatile option for many decors, and could be set up with a slightly irregular natural finish or polished down to a smooth surface. It is not essential to seal slate, but doing this will cut back on maintenance and make the stone easier to mop. Slate lasts for 100 years or more; only be sure to receive one of those tough slates for flooring tiles to ensure a century of use won’t show up as worn-away traffic patterns in and out of the kitchen.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock that comprises the observable skeletons of tiny sea creatures, shells and other pieces of sediment that sank to the seafloor millions of years back and solidified into tough calcium carbonate. It may be almost white, beige, gold, rose, or dark green or dark. Most limestone used in house interiors is pale. Limestone tends to be tough due to its composition, but it is a very intriguing stone when displayed on floors or counters. Maintenance is the problem. It’s extremely porous, and even penetrating sealer won’t completely protect it; spilled lemon juice or vinegar will stain it. The finish wears away, and acidic liquids fast mark the rocks and eat through the sealer. Unsealed limestone darkens with dirt, stains and use. It’s best used for ornamental touches where it won’t be subject to this punishing traffic of a kitchen, bathroom or hallway.